The Latest: Britain says Russia has 24 theories on poisoning
MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy and his daughter (all times local):
Britain’s U.N. ambassador says Russia has come up with 24 theories on who bears responsibility for the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter in England, but the United Kingdom has only one — that it’s highly likely Russia was responsible.
Karen Pierce told a U.N. Security Council meeting called by Russia on Thursday: “We believe that the U.K.’s actions stand up to any scrutiny. ... We have nothing to hide, but I do fear that Russia might have something to fear.”
Pierce strongly criticized Russia for insisting on having its own experts participate in the examination of the nerve agent used in the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Samples of what is believed to have sickened them are being analyzed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Pierce also told reporters later that she finds it “grotesque” that Russia is blocking the investigation into responsibility for chemical weapons use in Syria while demanding that it be part of the investigation into the March 4 poisonings of the Skripals in the city of Salisbury.
Russia’s U.N. ambassador says Moscow assumes “with a high degree of probability” that the intelligence services of other countries are behind the likely the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.
Vassily Nebenzia told the U.N. Security Council at a Thursday meeting called by Russia that “everything confirms this is a coordinated, very well-planned campaign” intended “to discredit and even delegitimize Russia.”
He did not name the intelligence services that Russia suspects, but said their goal is to accuse Moscow of using “a horrible, inhumane weapon, of concealing the arsenal of this substance,” of violating the Chemical Weapons Convention, and putting in question Russia’s “role not only in finding a solution in Syria, but anywhere else.”
Nebenzia said Britain is required to allow Russia to participate in the investigation of the March 4 attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.
He also questioned the British government’s claims of Russian responsibility by asking what antidotes for exposure to the Novichok nerve agent the Skripals were given and where they were for four hours without cellphones on the day of the attack.
Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations has given a blistering indictment of the British government’s allegations that Moscow was behind the nerve-agent poisoning in England of an ex-spy and his daughter.
U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia opened a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday with a lengthy statement in which he claimed that Russia was the victim of a hasty, sloppy and ill-intentioned defamation campaign by Britain and its allies.
Nebenzia said: “Great Britain refuses to cooperate with us on the pretext that the victim does not cooperate with the criminal....A crime was committed on British territory, possibly a terrorist act, and it is our citizens who are the victims.”
Russia called the Security Council session at U.N. headquarters in New York to appeal to other nations for support in pursuing another explanation for the March 4 attack on Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence agent who was convicted of spying for Britain.
Nebenzia challenged Britain to take his statement as “a litmus test” of the country’s integrity and respect for international norms.
This item has been corrected to show the current U.N. ambassador from Russia is Vassily Nebenzia, not Vitaly Churkin.
Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations says she fears Russia called a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the poisoning of an ex-spy in England to show “contempt” for international institutions such as the U.N.
Ambassador Karen Pierce said she also has “a bit of a fear” that Moscow is trying “to build a narrative” for why it won’t accept the forthcoming findings from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on the nerve agent that sickened Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
Piece told reporters ahead of Thursday afternoon’s Security Council meeting that Britain looks forward to the chemical weapons watchdog’s report and has “nothing to hide.”
She said: “We ask, what have the Russians got to fear?”
Pierce said a number of factors led the British government to conclude that “this was a Russian state attack.” She says they include a Russian declaration that its ex-agents are fair game, knowledge that Russia has made military-grade nerve agents and “other information that I am not able to disclose.”
Russia’s Ambassador to Britain, Alexander Yakovenko, has rejected the notion that the embassy is “trolling” Britain with its Twitter account.
The London Embassy’s account, which has sometimes mirrored the wry humor of the ambassador, has been vocal in demanding evidence backing Britain’s insistence that Russia was behind the March 4 nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the city of Salisbury.
One March post featured a picture of actor David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, the intrepid sleuth of Agatha Christie novels.
On March 18 the Russian Embassy tweeted: “In absence of evidence, we definitely need Poirot in Salisbury!”
Pressed on the tweets, Yakovenko said Thursday that “We are using in this situation a sense of human humor because some statements are really not friendly.”
Russia’s top diplomat says Moscow must participate in a probe into the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in Britain and see evidence if it is to accept the probe’s results.
Britain blamed Russia for the March 4 poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, accusations Russia has denied.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Britain stonewalled Moscow’s request for evidence and refused to let Russia join the probe.
Asked Thursday if Russia would accept the conclusions of the international chemical weapons watchdog, Lavrov said Moscow can’t give an advance approval to a verdict coming after a secret investigation to which it had no access.
Lavrov said that the expulsions of over 150 Russian diplomats by two dozen Western nations threatened global stability. Moscow expelled the same number of Western diplomats.
The poisoned daughter of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal says in a statement released by police that her strength is growing daily and that she is grateful for the interest shown in her case.
Yulia Skripal said Thursday that she woke up over a week ago after being poisoned along with her father in the southwestern city of Salisbury on March 4. The 33-year-old expressed gratitude to the people who came to their aid.
She says that “I am sure you appreciate that the entire episode is somewhat disorientating, and I hope that you’ll respect my privacy and that of my family during the period of my convalescence.”
Britain has blamed Russia for the poisoning using a military grade nerve agent. In response, more than two dozen Western allies including Britain, the U.S. and NATO have ordered out over 150 Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity.
Russian state television has released a recording of what it says is a phone call between the daughter of an ex-spy poisoned in Britain and her cousin in Russia.
In it, Yulia Skripal says she and her father, former double agent Sergei Skripal, are both recovering and in normal health. She says her father is sleeping and his health has not been irreparably damaged.
Rossiya TV says Skripal’s niece, Viktoria, who lives in Moscow, provided it with the recording of her conversation with Yulia. The broadcaster says it can’t verify the recording’s authenticity.
Britain has blamed Russia for the March 4 nerve agent attack that sickened the Skripals. The British hospital treating them said Yulia’s condition has improved, while her father has remained in critical condition. Russia has vehemently denied involvement in the poisoning.
Russia’s top diplomat has dismissed the recent expulsions of Russian diplomats as a mockery of international law.
Two dozen countries have kicked out a total of more than 150 Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity with Britain, which blames Russia for last month’s poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday the nerve agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal was “staged” to justify the expulsions from many countries “whose arms were twisted.”
The international chemical weapons watchdog on Wednesday rejected Russia’s calls for a joint investigation with Britain. Russia said the number of countries that abstained from the vote suggested many have doubts about Britain’s allegations that Moscow was behind the attack.